Friday, January 29, 2016

44. Slow-Cooker Barbecue Chicken Tacos with Coleslaw


I made these tacos last Sunday.  Apparently, I've started a pattern of making the tacos and not getting the post done until a few days later!  Well . . . what can I say?  School has started!  Ha ha.

I was in the mood for something rather simple and comforting.  I know - can you believe it?  Usually, I'm all about complicated recipes!  The truth is, I had some other things to get done and I wanted something that I could start and then forget about for a few hours.

I'm a huge fan of using a Dutch oven - in the oven (for braising).  There are other options, though.  We have two slow cookers, and unless we are having a big party and need to keep something warm, they are usually just gathering dust in the pantry.  For whatever reason, I decided to dust one off and and give it a whirl.

I kind of wanted barbecue chicken with coleslaw and macaroni and cheese for dinner.  That would have been nice.


I've come to realize, since beginning this project, that we don't always get what we want for dinner.  Ha ha.  I decided to make a taco with the same flavors - shredded chicken in a homemade barbecue sauce, creamy coleslaw, and shredded cheese with peppers.

The result definitely satisfied my craving!  I'm not sure if I completely bonded with the slow cooker, but it worked!

Here's the recipe:

Slow-Cooker Barbecue Chicken Tacos with Coleslaw

Serves 4 to 6 (about 12 tacos)


For the chicken:

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
About 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken (I used a mix of organic breast and thigh meat.)
One 28 oz. can plum tomatoes, including the juice
2 tbsp. ketchup
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. liquid smoke

For the coleslaw:

3 heaping cups bagged coleslaw mix
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup finely chopped red pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

About 4 oz. finely grated Colby-jack cheese with peppers (or another cheese of your choice)

12-24 corn tortillas, depending on their size and whether you plan to double them up


1.  Start the chicken mixture:  Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet.  Add the onions, lower the heat a bit, and cook until they are soft and somewhat browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.

2.  Place the onions, garlic, and all remaining chicken mixture ingredients into a slow cooker.  (Leave the chicken pieces whole - they'll be easier to remove later!)

Turn the heat to high and cook for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is very tender.  If your slow cooker is larger than mine, you might want to reduce the cooking time.  Mine took about an hour or so just to start simmering!

3.  While the chicken is cooking, make the coleslaw:  Place all of the coleslaw ingredients in a medium bowl and toss until well combined.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Set aside.

4.  Remove the chicken pieces from the slow cooker.  Using a knife and fork, pull/shred the chicken into small, bite-size pieces.

Using a hand blender, blend the sauce that remains in the slow cooker until smooth.  

Place the chicken back in the slow cooker (in the sauce) and keep warm.  

5.  Prepare the tortillas to your liking:  There are a few different ways you can do this.  When I am making tacos with soft corn tortillas, I heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  I place a large sheet of aluminum foil near the pan.  I heat each tortilla in the skillet for about a minute or so on each side, or until it softens and begins to brown.

After each one is done, I place it on the foil and immediately start the next one.  I stack them on top of one another as I work.  When I'm done with the whole batch, I wrap them completely in the foil and place them in a 250 degree oven until I'm ready to assemble the tacos.  They always stay hot and soft!  If there are leftovers, I heat fresh tortillas for the next meal.  

6.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a tortilla on a plate.  (You can double them up if your tortillas are thin.  Since the filling is very saucy, I would recommend it!)  Spoon some of the chicken mixture down the center of the tortillas.  Sprinkle on some of the grated cheese.  Finish with some of the coleslaw.  Enjoy!

I loved the combination of flavors in this recipe.  It really did remind me of a great barbecue chicken meal!

It was a bit spicy.  Oh well - what do you expect?  This is Arizona, after all!  You could definitely cut back on the amount of crushed red pepper or use a cheese without hot peppers added if spice is not your thing.  As barbecue sauces go, this is also on the tangy side rather than the sweet side.  It would be easy to tweak the amount of vinegar, mustard, and molasses if you would prefer the sauce to be sweeter.  I thought it was perfect. 

There was a lot of sauce.  You could probably add another pound of chicken without changing anything else if you wanted to serve more people.  In that case, I would have had to use my larger slow cooker!

Steve liked these as well.  We actually had the leftovers on top of white rice the next day.  That was delicious as well!  If you don't want to do tacos (or rice), you could make some awesome sandwiches out of this recipe, too.

Would I use the slow cooker again?  Well, probably, but I don't think it will become one of my go-to cooking appliances.  I'm not a fix-it-and-forget-it kind of person.  I was checking this constantly and worrying about how slowly it was heating up.  In the end, it was fine.  I did fill it to the brim and did not preheat the ingredients, so I don't know why that surprised me.  It would be really easy to make this on the stovetop or in the oven as well.  

Feel free to comment on this recipe!  Did you try them?  What did you think?  Am I the only one that just can't turn on the slow cooker and forget about it?  Ha ha.

What should I make next?  Well, actually I know what I'm making next.  Spaghetti squash tacos with rajas!  :)

Thanks for reading!

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